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SPORTS WEEKEND

Record 319.71 for McClenathan

January 30, 1998|SHAV GLICK

After one top fuel car after another spun its wheels in frustrating cold, damp weather, Cory McClenathan showed his fellow drivers how to handle the slippery conditions Thursday by powering through the quarter-mile in 4.63 seconds at 319.71 mph at Pomona Raceway.

This put McClenathan far ahead of the competition as top qualifier for the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals, opening event of the National Hot Rod Assn. season.

The speed was a Winternationals record, eclipsing the 316.90 mph record set last year by Shelly Anderson.

Conditions were so bad, after a five-hour delay caused by morning rains, that only three cars had speeds of more than 205 mph.

It was the first time McClenathan had been in the McDonald's dragster since he drove last November in the Winston Finals. During the off-season, he had a baseball-sized tumor, which proved to be benign, removed from his shoulder.

"Maybe the layoff helped me," McClenathan said. "Last year at this time I had 30 runs testing. This time I didn't have any. The car just worked perfect."

The tricky surface did not bother pro stock qualifiers as three-time NHRA champion Warren Johnson placed his new GM Goodwrench Pontiac in the No. 1 position with a run of 6.987 seconds elapsed time at 198.36 mph.

Johnson qualified No. 1 at the Winternationals four years in a row, from 1993 to 1996. He has also won the event in 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1995.

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